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July 2013 Log

Ramadan Mubarak

We are halfway through the 2013 whale shark season in Al Shaheen (ALS) and despite a very windy month of June the field work has been a massive success.

Seven aggregations have been encountered by the research team on boat surveys so far with one aggregation numbering more than 150 whale sharks.

Acoustic tags have been placed on more than 40 whale sharks. The sound signals from the tags will be detected by 10 receivers that have been deployed on the seabed in the ALS region in order to identify the aggregation hot-spots (see picture). In addition several sharks have been fitted with satellite tags so that we can follow their exact position live.

As in the previous years the sharks seem arrive in ALS to feed on the eggs from the Tuna Mackerel (Euthynnus affinis). Plankton tows have revealed fish eggs in massive concentrations confirming that this is an important spawning ground and that the sharks know all about it!

Ichthyologist Peter Rask Moller form University of Copenhagen has joined us and trips in May to test if whale shark DNA can be extracted from water samples and in that way function as a method for detecting their presence.

In June we have had the pleasure of having Dr. Chris Rohner on-board sharing his experience from whale shark aggregations in Tanzania. At the same time Qatari free diver Khalid Al Hamadi had close encounter photos taken for his soon to be published book. Check out the super images taken by Simone Caprodossi in our Gallery.
Captain Ali Mubarak Al-Kuwari from the Qatar ministry of Environment has taken the scientists and photographers safely to ALS and back. At the same time he has developed a keen eye for spotting big black dorsal fins in the horizon.

In September we will resume trips to ALS and hopefully get a better picture of where the sharks go in the winter season.

The QWSR team

 

Mohammed Al-Jeidah from the Qatar Ministry of Environment instructing the deployment of the plankton net

Ali Mubarak Al-Kuwari from the Qatar ministry of Environment with plankton samples. The jar to the left contains fish eggs from a 3 minute tow within a whale shark aggregation zone. The container to the right contains plankton from a tow taken after the sharks left the area and contains hardly any fish eggs.

Acoustic receiver station ready to be deployed (anchor, acoustic release, receiver, floats)

A calm feeding day in Al Shaheen

Qatari free diver Khalid Al Hamadi up close and personal with the Al Shaheen whale sharks

From left to right : David Robinson, Ali Mubarak Al-Kuwari, Chris Rohner, Khalid Al Hamadi, Simone Caprodossi, and Steffen Bach